The Chamber serves the community in many ways

By Mike McKenna

When people ask what The Chamber of Hailey and the Wood River Valley does, it’s a tough answer. We do a lot of different things just about every day of the year to help positively impact every corner of our community.

That’s why we try to keep the answer to that question simple. Our motto is: “We’re here to help.”

The Chamber’s impacts flow through three different channels.

As a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, our biggest direct financial impact comes through our annual Idaho Travel Council (ITC) grant. This upcoming fiscal year, which follows the governmental calendar, we will begin to use the largest grant they’ve ever awarded us. The grant pretty much has one goal: drive overnight stays in hotels, managed campgrounds and short-term rentals.

Since we’re a tourist-based economy that relies on such overnight stays to survive, we work hard to make sure we use this grant wisely. Thanks to our incredible local talent base, numerous Wood River Valley businesses provide a variety of content for us to help make this grant work.

The ITC grant helps us produce things like our Discover the Wood River Valley Guide—which has been named one of the top three Visitors Guides in the country the last two years—and a variety of other print and video content. The ITC appears to like what we’re doing, as the latest grant topped our previous record by 30%.

The biggest impacts that most folks notice come through our local option tax (LOT) grant with the City of Hailey. The Chamber uses those grant funds to run the Welcome Center and help put on over a dozen events, from big ones like Hailey’s Days of the Old West Fourth of July celebration, to burgeoning ones like the Hispanic Heritage Fest and the Ice Carving Contest, to modern classics like the 5B Chili Cook-Off (returning on September 25!) and the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.

The other role The Chamber plays is often overlooked but is just as invaluable. We provide a variety of Chamber of Commerce services to our nearly 400 members as well as to the thousands of people who call, email or come into the Welcome Center looking for help or referrals of all kinds.

We throw ribbon cuttings for new businesses or new locations. We help connect local businesses and nonprofits with one another. We occasionally offer a political voice on matters impacting our business community. We promote shopping local, including offering the Chamber Bucks program, which has kept around $100,000 in our community since COVID started.

The Chamber helps small businesses and nonprofits make their ways and make this place so special. We help large and established businesses stay connected to the community. We try to make sure that the Wood River Valley is a thriving and fun place for both visitors and locals alike.

The Chamber’s small staff and volunteer board of directors are honored to play this role for our community. We’re here to help and there are a lot of local folks who want to, too.

For more information, go to ValleyChamber.org or call (208) 788-3484.